Can A Gene Make You A Better Person?

Survival of the fittest is thrown around to explain antisocial behavior. Smart guys finish last. People who are unafraid to be selfish and abrasive get ahead in the workplace. It’s even been postulated that people with sociopathic tendencies end up being the most successful among us in their respective fields. But what if reptilian behavior isn’t what makes humans successful as a species? What if it’s the good within us that has given man a place on top of the food chain?

To explain why nice guys don’t necessarily finish last, you’ll have to understand W. D. Hamilton’s theory of evolutionary psychology. He coined the term Inclusive fitness in 1964. His theory broadens the term “survival of the fittest” to include a more meaningful definition of the definition of “fitness.” Here, fitness isn’t just those willing to do whatever it takes to succeed on a personal level, even if that comes at the cost of others. Fitness here is more than just a single organism clawing its way towards survival. It is organisms or people working together to survive and thrive as a community, as a whole.

Can Inclusive Fitness Be Observed?

  • Inclusive fitness can be observed in organisms that live and interact together in groups. In any kind of animal group, those that protect their young are practicing inclusive fitness. It’s not necessary for survival to do so. Snakes, crocodiles and other reptiles simply hatch their young and leave them to fend for themselves. Darwin’s theory of evolution supports that organisms function in ways that allow their own DNA to replicate and carry on within the next generation. His theory doesn’t go further than that.

In W. D. Hamilton’s theory, organisms not only protect their young and next of kin, they may do so at a cost. For example, prairie dogs keep watch for predators. After spotting danger, one may alert the others within his community by making a sound or series of sounds. By speaking up, it draws attention to itself. By putting itself in danger, it attempts to save the lives of others. This can’t be explained by Darwin’s theory, which merely supports survival of the fittest.

This kind of altruistic action can be explained by inclusive fitness. If a gene or a certain set of genes exist within an organism, it may be drawn to act altruistically. Genes are shared within related individuals so when it acts to protect its relatives or community, these genes are protected as well. When related individuals help each other survive, the genes survive too. They are then passed on to the next generation. In this system, organisms are naturally inclined not only to propagate their own DNA but that of their kin.

This explains why a mother would risk her life to save that of her child’s by refusing chemotherapy. It explains why someone might take a bullet for a sibling, or why a someone would simply go out of his way to help a relative.

Not only does the science of this theory explain altruistic behavior, it suggests that altruism makes a community successful. While survival of the fittest may help one individual survive, nature may have caused organisms to evolved genes that allow them to survive as groups, giving new meaning to the saying “No man is an island.”

If altruism is encoded within our genetics, it may explain why some individuals act selfishly. It is then also possible that acting without concern for others is due to genetically programmed behavior. If a defective version of the gene is passed on or if the gene is not passed on at all, a person may not be programmed to act the way other members of the community do. Genetics may explain why some individuals act as though “better you than I.” This could lead to further questions that if our psychology and personality are pre-programmed, to what extent can humans be held responsible for their good and bad deeds?

Sulfites? A Brief Overview

As a person who has a sensitivity to sulfites I figured someone may search and find this post useful. It took me over a year to figure it out and I suspect I had issues my whole life.

So if you are one of those people that have strange reactions to certain foods, break out in hives, get tired after eating certain things, or have gas issues, then this info is worth a read.

What are Sulfites?

  • Sulfites are compounds containing sulfite ion. These salts can occur is food naturally or added as preservatives in wine, grape juices and dried food products to enhance and retain the desired food qualities. Some of the common  compounds are sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite, and sodium sulfite. The FDA requires manufacturers to list sulfite as a component only if the finished product has more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfite in it. Substances like fruits and alcoholic beverages contain less than10ppm of sulfites and therefore do not require any mention in the ingredient labels. This undisclosed fact is a risk factor for those with sensitivity.

National Statistics

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) puts the number of people sensitive to sulfites as one in every ten. Sulfites have also been known to destroy vitamin B1 or thiamin. This vitamin is essential for metabolism of carbohydrates and alcohol. The manifestation of sulfite allergy or sensitivity in humans can be mild to severe. The most common complain that some of us might have encountered is a phenomenon known as red wine headache.
  • A person sensitive to the sulfites in red wine develops headache and a bad temper accompanied with it. Since there is no reliable or commercially available skin test for sulfite allergy, the diagnosis is mainly based on the history of adverse reactions to sulfite containing food products or medications. As each persons tolerance level is different and unique, it is extremely difficult to identify the exact amount of sulfite that can cause an allergic reaction.

Serious Stuff… Asthmas, Hives, Swelling…

  • Sulfites have been known to induce asthma attacks in some cases and hives or facial swelling in others. Though very rare, sulfites can sometimes even cause a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. Food containing sulfites and its related compounds can be classified into four broad categories: more than 100 ppm of sulfites, items such as dried fruits, bottled lemon juice, wine, molasses, sauerkraut, grape juices, pickled onions; between 50 and 99.9 ppm of sulfites, such as dried potatoes, wine vinegar, certain sauces, fruit toppings; between 10 and 49.9 ppm of sulfites, like pectin, shrimp, corn syrup, corn starch, clam chowder, dehydrated vegetables; and less than 10 ppm of sulfites, like malt vinegar, frozen pizza and pie dough, gelatin, coconut, domestic jams and jellies. The best precaution in case of sulfite allergy or sensitivity is to check the labels before buying for sulfites or any of its compounds and avoiding them. Prompt medical action should be sought in case of any allergic reactions.

Pretty crazy huh?? Sound like something you might have?

We would love to hear your feedback below.

What Are The Good Fats In Your Food?

Many people fight the battle of the bulge. They want to lose fat. Our thinking about what constitutes good foods and bad foods changes drastically over time. At one time, fat was the enemy in our war on weight loss. This is not necessarily true. Fats do tend to contain more calories per serving than other types of food, but the body does need certain fats in order to maintain health. Fats help maintain mood, and healthy fats provide muscle cushioning. As far as weight loss goes, the goal remains the same. The person needs to use more calories than he or she consumes. Now, the dieter who wants to stick with the current trends of thinking may want to avoid bad fats.

Bad fats, which are mostly trans fats, have been banned by many cities. Other places think these bans are going a bit too far, but many restaurants have stopped using these products in their products as well. Lard, stick margarine and cheeses all contain a certain amount of trans fats. As long as an individual consumes them in moderation, he or she should have no problem maintaining his or her weight. It is calories and activity that are important in the modern Battle of the Bulge.

So, what are good fats in food? Even though a person does not need to avoid fats in order to lose weight, he or she may want to consider taking in certain types of fats in order to maintain a healthy diet. These are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Most cooking oils contain them. Olive oil also contains it. A person who cooks most of his or her food with lard may want to consider switching to olive, peanut or canola oil. The last oil is not as expensive as the first two. Of course, there are still certain dishes where lard is an indispensable part of the recipe.

Good fats are the food that help you maintain your health. Bad fats are the ones that contribute to higher rates of cholesterol and the clogging of arteries. The good fats help prevent this. If someone wants to make sure he or she gets the required amount of good fats in his diet, he may also want to consider snacking on olives. Olives may not be quite as tasty as the potato chips or chocolate, but it is just as salty as the first common treat. They are also great on salads.